2 additional FMD outbreaks reported
The government confirmed two additional foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks at pig production and cattle farms on Sunday, as the highly contagious animal disease continues to spread across the nation.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the pig farm with 2,100 animals, located in Yeoju, 105 kilometers southeast of Seoul, tested positive for the disease.
The animals were put under close observation on Saturday after some animals started to develop blisters on their snouts, teats and hooves.
All animals on the farm have already been culled to prevent the spread of the disease, the ministry said.
In addition, the ministry reported an outbreak at a cattle farm in the same county.
The ministry said two of the 140 cattle on the farm tested positive for the disease.
The animals will be culled, and all animals on other farms within a 500-meter radius will be also culled to prevent the disease from spreading.
The ministry also said dozens of pigs at another farm in the same county show signs of developing blisters and other symptoms.
Related to the latest outbreak, the most severe in South Korea's history, the government announced Wednesday that it will opt to vaccinate animals after nationwide quarantine and decontamination efforts failed to prevent the disease from spreading.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak earlier in the day instructed related agencies to provide full support for the affected farms and redouble efforts to prevent the animal disease from further spreading.
Chung Woon-chun, a senior member of the ruling Grand National Party, also said earlier in the day that his party will seek to establish an advanced system to prevent livestock diseases.
"(The government) needs to set up a nation-wide system to prevent animal diseases from spreading," said the former farm minister, who heads the party's FMD task force.
After the first case was confirmed on Nov. 29 in North Gyeongsang Province, the disease spread to Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces, and Incheon, with a total of 51 cases being reported and over 325,000 animals ordered to be destroyed.
FMD is highly contagious and affects all cloven-hoofed animals, such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo, although it is harmless to humans. It is classified as a "List A" disease by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, with countries that report outbreaks barred from exporting meat.
The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times earlier in the year. Authorities have ordered the culling of a record 299,700 livestock so far with estimated losses expected to hover around 400 billion ($347 million).